As the nights draw in and temperatures drop, it can be tempting to stay indoors, eat stodgy food and forget about exercise. Which is why Ordnance Survey’s GetOutside Day comes at just the right time of year!
The goal is to challenge families to get outside and be more active on 29th September.
It’s a great way to raise the profile of outdoor activities and get babies, children, adults and grandparents outside. Whether you go for a walk, bike ride, climb a hill or enjoy a picnic, it doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you step outside your front door.
Throughout the day free events are taking place. Near to the Forest of Dean there are a couple of events you can join in with – a gentle circular walk through the Forest of Dean, including a pub lunch and a brief visit to the picturesque Lydney Harbour. And an opportunity to see extraordinary industrial heritage set amidst some of the loveliest forest landscapes. You can take your own picnic to this event and hear how to become a Free Miner!
According to the University of East Anglia, spending time outside has significant and wide-ranging health benefits. They say exposure to nature reduces the risk of type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, premature death, preterm birth, stress, and high blood pressure.
So if you’re more couch potato, or think it’s boring to get outside, here are 12 ideas to entice you to step outside your front door.
Do a rocks treasure hunt
Join Forest of Dean rocks. The idea is to incorporate some fun into walking. You create, hide, find and post – on Facebook – decorated rocks. So go ahead and paint a couple of pebbles and leave them somewhere for people to find. You never know, you might even find your own to pick up and out and about! Hop onto the Facebook page and share your photos.
Pack a picnic
Even the most mundane food tastes better when eaten outdoors. Pack some of your favourites and find somewhere with a stunning view to stop and refuel. It could be a great excuse to hunt for one of the highest points with the most panoramic views to enjoy.
Get on the water
Whether you like paddleboarding, canoeing or a rowing boat, being on water is a wonderful way to enjoy the outdoors. Depending on where you end up, it can be as strenuous or relaxing as you like.
Walk at night time
There’s something magical about walking outside at night time. Everything sounds and looks different. On a clear night it can be wonderful to star gaze or watch shooting stars. And you get to see different wildlife too.
Take a camera
When you walk, you’ll really notice your surroundings if you set yourself a photographic challenge. One day you might photograph flowers, another day you could photograph trees, or look for blue things or pink things -the choices are endless and should encourage you to go outside day after day!
Forest bathing is really popular as a therapy in Japan and, living in the Forest of Dean, we’re in the perfect place to indulge! Shinrin-yoku (or forest bathing) means ‘bathing’ all the senses, whilst walking slowly in the forest. Japan’s Forest Agency have invested $4 million to study forest bathing. It’s the opposite of hiking, searching or collecting, it’s literally ‘being’ in the forest with all your senses.
Go up in the air
Available in over 30 locations across the UK, Go Ape offer something for thrill seekers. You can go on zip wires, walk along tight ropes, hang from Tarzan swings and walk along bridges way up in the tress.
Gather things for a nature table
Nature has so much to offer and a great way to remind yourself to get outside more is to bring home treasures for a small corner of your room. In the autumn, acorns, dried leaves.
Do a pub crawl!
Well, if it gets you out and about, why not?!
Join a walking club
If you need company to keep you motivated, then a local walking club might be just the answer. As well as formal groups such as the Ramblers Association, there are also ‘walking for health’ groups. Health Walks are organised, volunteer led walks that last about an hour and are generally no more than 3 miles long, often less. Here is the Forest of Dean community walks Facebook page and their website.
Get on your bike
Royal Dean Forest Cycling Club’s primary aim is to enjoy cycling – whether that’s social or competitive. They’ve been cycling for over 60 years and you’ll find them on the roads, trails and tracks throughout the forest.
Wild swimming is an exhilarating way to get outside and get close to nature. The best way for beginners to start is by enlisting a guide who can help you prepare and take you along a tried and tested route. Lower Lydbrook to Yat Rock is a gentle introductory swim for beginners. It has easy entry and exit points and the possibility of buzzards, kestrels, peregrine falcons and kingfishers keeping you company on your journey.